Skip to main content

Which of these places has the smallest percentage of evangelical Christians? New York, Oregon, Utah, or California? If the title of the article didn’t give it away, the answer is Utah. Utah is one of the neediest mission fields in the world. Why is that, and how can you reach it? 

Utah is the Least-Evangelized State in the U.S. 

In a rapidly growing state of 3.3 million people, only about 3% report attending an evangelical church.1 Roughly 23% of Utahns claim no religion,2 and anywhere from 55-66% are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.3 That’s over 3 million unsaved people in one state, about 750,000 of whom claim no religion, and over two million of whom are members of the LDS Church. That makes Utah the least-evangelized state in the U.S., and if Utah were its own country, it would be one of the most spiritually needy countries in the world. 

Add to this Utah’s rapid population growth, and the percentage of unevangelized keeps increasing. Utah was the fastest-growing state in the U.S. from 2010-2020,4 and though it has dropped a few spots, it remains one of the fastest-growing states. For churches to keep up with Utah’s population growth, church-planting organizations estimate that you would need to plant a church of over 1,000 people every week.5 

This makes Utah an unreached mission field. Within a fifteen-minute drive of my home, I can name five towns that have no church other than the LDS Church, and there are many more throughout Utah. Even though my city has a few gospel-preaching churches, I’ve explained the true gospel to people here who have responded with things like “I’ve never heard that before” or “You’re the only religious person I’ve ever met who isn’t LDS.” 

Utah is Home to a Unique Unreached People Group 

Utah and its LDS population share a unique history, culture, and even language; and these are just a few factors that make them a hard group to reach. In 1847, LDS settlers left the U.S. and colonized the territory that would become Utah. Back then, it was part of Mexico, and the LDS pioneers named it Deseret.6 Salt Lake City then became the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The LDS Church was an isolated group for forty-nine years until Utah was admitted into the U.S. in 1896. This history is a central part of the LDS identity. 

Over those isolated years, Utah developed a unique LDS culture, and even today LDS culture is to Utahns what water is to fish.  

  • Why are there beehives on state road signs? Because the honeybee symbolizes the productive industry the LDS Church applauds.  
  • Why are soda shops so prominent? Because faithful Latter-Day Saints don’t drink coffee or tea.  
  • Why do many homes for sale advertise extra storage space? Because the LDS Church teaches that you should store food as part of emergency preparedness.  

Examples could be multiplied, but this again shows why the LDS are hesitant to leave the LDS Church. Why step outside of a culture you believe to be not only normal but God-given? Why leave something all your family and friends embrace? 

The LDS even have their own “language.” As mentioned, the LDS settlers originally named their territory “Deseret,” a name that survives in the LDS-run news outlet Deseret News. Where did this word come from? Joseph Smith invented it in the Book of Mormon.7 

Most examples of LDS language, however, are normal English words loaded with unusual meaning or used in uncommon ways. Where else in the world will normal conversation include things like receiving revelations, being called to serve in a mission, baby blessings, or being sealed in marriage? These are all examples of “Mormonese.” They make perfect sense to the LDS, but, for the most part, outsiders have no clue what they mean. 

Mormonese is especially prevalent and dangerous with theological words. The LDS Church uses many of the same theological words we do—Scriptures, grace, gospel, salvation, heaven, Trinity—but they have completely different meanings. For example, the Bible teaches that grace is an undeserved gift you can’t work to earn (Rom. 4:4-5; 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Tit. 3:5). But the LDS Church teaches that grace is something we receive “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). This makes clarifying the true gospel painstakingly difficult at times. 

Utah Needs You to Reach It 

How can you reach Utah with the gospel? Three simple ways: Pray, Send, and Come. Pray for the gospel to advance in Utah. Pray for hearts to be softened to the truth. Pray for churches to have physical provision, encouragement, wisdom, and strength for spiritual warfare. The gospel won’t advance without prayer. 

You can also send and support missionaries in Utah. Do you have someone in your church who wants to serve in a mission field? Point them to Utah. Utah needs more Christians, both as vocational ministers and as faithful laity. Are you looking for a missionary or ministry to support financially? Your financial support would tremendously bless many in Utah. 

Finally, come join us! There are many short-term opportunities for internships, service, mission teams, and vision trips. Consider participating in one of these. And if you catch the Utah bug, be part of the population growth by moving here and partnering with a local church to reach Utah with the gospel. That’s how my wife and I ended up in Utah, and we’ve loved serving here. 

The short of it is that Utah needs the gospel, and you can be part of reaching it! 

Zack is a missionary with Biblical Ministries Worldwide and the pastor of Rocky Mountain Bible Church in Brigham City, UT, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is a graduate of Bob Jones University, and he blogs at

Skip to content